Advanced cobalt play Jervois Mining (ASX: JRV) has boosted its cash reserves by selling its Bullabulling gold royalty for $3.1 million, as exploration at its Idaho Cobalt Operations in the US heats up with the company intercepting new copper and cobalt mineralisation.
The results are reported to confirm Jervois’ exploration model and demonstrate the potential to add future mineral resources to the project.
Jervois said the Ram deposit is open in all directions and will be “thoroughly drilled” in the 2020 field season once drill collar access has been established.
The newly-discovered zone will be tested from locations on the west side of the Salmon River mountains in order to reduce drilling costs.
While a key purpose of the drilling program was to support a feasibility study update, Jervois chief executive officer Bryce Crocker said the company also wanted to explore the footwall at the Ram deposit to test its geological model.
“We are pleased to advise that the concept has been successfully validated, with both deep holes drilled into the footwall of the main Ram resource intercepting copper and cobalt which was previously undrilled and unknown,” he said.
Mr Crocker said seasonal constraints and acceleration of feasibility optimisation have led to the completion of the 2019 drilling program.
Results will be used for metallurgical testwork and infill resource drilling, and the generation of physical offtake samples for customers.
Earlier this week, Jervois announced it had selected a preferred contractor to carry out a scoping study on a planned refinery at Blackfoot, Idaho to process ICO concentrate.
Global engineering services company Wood has been appointed to conduct a high-level review of commercially-available technologies for the processing of sulphide concentrate through to the production of 99.8% LMB-grade refined cobalt metal.
The study will also consider battery recycling technology and the processing of third-party feed with a focus on enhancing the regional importance of the planned refinery.
Wood has worked on more than 30 pressure hydrometallurgy projects worldwide involving base and precious metals and other industrial minerals, from scoping level studies to operational support including cobalt refining projects.
Cobalt has been identified by the US and Australia to be of strategic importance in relation to the national security of both nations, due to a current reliance on foreign suppliers.
The ICO project is located in heart of the mineral-rich Idaho cobalt belt and when initial mining commences in mid-2021, it will be the only domestic cobalt mine within the US.
Refining the concentrate through to cobalt metal is a medium-term development option for Jervois to ensure the US maintains access to a metal previously identified as a critical mineral.
“A refinery in Idaho will create manufacturing jobs, establish refining technology, knowledge and expertise within the local community and importantly, attract supporting industries, generating significant prosperity for the state of Idaho,” the company said.
The scoping study is scheduled for completion early next year.
Jervois has also been busy with exploration activities on the other side of the world, having recently completed an initial diamond drilling campaign at its highly-prospective Bujagali properties in central Uganda.
Drilling at the nearby Kilembe Area properties has also been planned to test the high-grade Senator, Eagle and Bond copper-gold anomalies identified from rock chip samples over 1.7km of strike.
Of 441 samples collected at the anomalies last month, 43 contained greater than 0.75 grams per tonne gold, including 17 exceeding 5.03g/t gold and seven containing more than 10.45g/t gold.
An additional 25 samples contained greater than 0.11% copper, including 11 exceeding 1.46% copper.
Jervois’ board of directors recently approved a fourth quarter 2019 exploration expenditure at the company’s Uganda properties of $2.21 million, including $1.33 million for initial drilling in Kilembe at the copper-gold showings, and $880,000 for further drilling at Bujagali.